Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Severin Browne : Jackson's Goofy Bro

Jackson Browne's brother was surprisingly goofy. In the early 70's when "Sweet Baby James" and Jackson were leading the earnest singer-songwriter brigade, Severin was offering deliberately dopey tunes like "Cooking School," a loopy love song: "She majored in crepes and in almonds. I studied desserts made with cheese. We fell in love while the class dissected a pea. Oh, whoa, oh, whoa, oh, whoa..."

Browne's two albums were issued on Motown when the label was trying to go in just about the opposite direction from The Four Tops. By hiring a white goop?

On his second album, the ill folkie offered the dippily repetitive "Do Magnolia Do" and the cloying "Tickle My Lips." That was more than enough. Even with back-up work from Jules Shear, Patti Dahlstrom and many others, nobody was listening. Not even out of curiosity over what Jackson's brother "Severin" might sound like.

Born in Germany, his parents evidently named him after a bad brand of coffee and spelled it wrong. The album jacket on "new and improved" references the idea of a coffee can label).

After "Cooking School" Browne was toast. He sat out the rest of the 70's and beyond. Too bad. Some of his silly numbers were as catchy as Rupert Holmes' "The Pina Colada Song." In the past 10 years he's issued two CD's but they aren't humorous or intentionally ill. They sound more like what you'd expect of Jackson Browne's brother.
Sometimes he's still loopy, although maybe not intentionally. "You Can't Fool the Moon" is an example.

Getting even with an ex-lover, Severin ominously sings: "You can't fool the moon. You can't fool the moon! You can't fool the moon. You can't fool the moon! You can't fool the moon. Oh you can't fool the moon. Oh you can't fool the moon. No, you can't fool the moon."

Why? Because you say so eight times in a row?

Jimmy Webb once declared the moon is a harsh mistress, and Severin agrees she's not to be screwed with: "She can see where you live." And? What's she doing to somebody who made the big mistake of not sticking with Severin? Mooning the person?

This pointless lyric reminds me of a line uttered by my late friend Brother Theodore. The noted podiatrist and performance artist once said that "the dog howling at the moon does not bother the moon. It only makes the dog look like a jackass."

Severin circa 1972 was one of those ill folks with a very unique vision. And Lenscrafters can fix that in under an hour.

Your zip file has a song from each of four Severin albums. If you just want to try "Cooking School," it's a quick download or listen on line.

First album: "Darling Christina." Sev proves that like Jackson, James and everybody else, he can write an anthem to some hippie chick he's either fucked or wants to.
Second album: "Love Story." The album was called "New and Improved." But this song is so obvious (a waltzing list of people, each in love with somebody else) it's surprising he had the strength to finish it. Especially when it ends like a cookie commercial: "...he's really in love with Sara Lee, and Sara Lee secretly honestly truly loves me."
Third album: "Edge of the World." Title track. Seriously OK. If he sounds like a more sober Dean Friedman or a speeded up Billy Joel, that's not so bad.
Fourth album: "You Can't Fool The Moon," although you can play golf on it.

Four Samples from the Four Albums

Cooking School...at least it beats Emeril La Gassy Instant download or listen on line. No porn ads or pop ups.

3 comments:

Romantic Vineyard Renee DeRobertis said...

I love love love Severin's quirky lyrics. He is an extremely talented man with a beautiful soul.

Romantic Vineyard Renee DeRobertis said...

I love love love Severin's quirky lyrics. He is an extremely talented man with a beautiful soul.

Oggy Bleacher said...

I hunted everywhere to buy or steal Darling Christina and could not find it. I mean, it's very hard to find and your sample zip package actually has it. Thank you. The song 'Stay' off this album made me think the whole album would be Motown, but 'Darling Christina' sounds nothing like Motown. It's a song about an imaginary kidnapping.
His attitude reminds me of H. Nilsson.